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Exploring three potential trade strategies for Knicks president Leon Rose – The Denver Post

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Buyers or sellers? A quarter of the season — with the start of the trade season about two weeks away — the Knicks are in a unique position of having to upgrade and downsize at the same time.

It’s a numbers game, really. The conflicting list crisis and the configuration of Leon Rose’s salaries. With over $400 million committed for five players, the Knicks are in no real position to finish the season and begin a rebuild. They entered Tuesday night just 1.5 games away from a playoff berth, with their main four – Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson and Jalen Brunson – locked into contracts until at least 2026.

Still, the talent isn’t good enough to escape the team’s middling status, and the season’s compass now seems useless.

Team President Rose, who took less risk than a broad daylight opossum, could still stand or tinker around the margins like his first two trade seasons. But there are other options that could boost the roster, or perhaps give the season a goal.

We will look at three of them:

THE NUCLEAR OPTION

Press the reset button. Trade Randle and/or Barrett and/or Robinson and start a serious rebuild. At this point, it’s hard to imagine either player bringing in much value on their respective contracts. It would require a massive admission of failure from Rose, who signed Randle and Barrett to nine-figure contracts in the past 18 months.

But swapping the pair serves to clear the cap sheet – if not for next summer, then maybe 2024. It also clears the way for playing time for rookies Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin, who are both eligible for extensions after the season. .

The problem is selling low on massive contracts. A stockbroker will warn you that this is a losing strategy. Rose has already tied first-round picks to offload three players he signed in 2021 – Kemba Walker, Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel. Should we trust Rose to get rid of her own mistakes again?

THE ASSET ACCUMULATION STRATEGY

We’ll hear it until it happens (or even if it doesn’t), but the Knicks are ready to acquire a superstar. They were reluctant to land Donovan Mitchell, which league sources said was a disappointment for Tom Thibodeau. Despite the lack of size in the backcourt, the coach felt he could make it work with Brunson and Mitchell. Maybe Danny Ainge was asking too much, which was the final stance taken by the Knicks front office. We’ll never know if Ainge was reluctant to deal with the Knicks, but the relationship was supposed to be Rose and William Wesley’s specialty. These Jazz negotiations demonstrated how little that matters in the trades. Of course, the Knicks still have their treasure trove of future draft picks, and they could theoretically acquire more by dealing with some of their prospects — particularly Quickley, Toppin and Quentin Grimes. The more future picks available to the Knicks, the easier it is to ditch them for the next available star. For the most part, this has been central to Rose’s strategy.

THE DIY OPTION

This is the most likely route given the circumstances and the configuration of the list. The Knicks have too many guards and centers, which has left a numbers problem that can be fixed before the trade deadline. They entered the NBA last Tuesday with three-point percentage, but benched the team’s top three-point threat — Evan Fournier — to get a better defensive presence (Grimes) in the backcourt. Shooting is still valued in the NBA, and there are teams (ahem, Lakers) that could use Fournier in the rotation. With two years and $37 million remaining, Fournier’s deal isn’t desirable, but it’s not an albatross either. Other obvious players to send to the market are Cam Reddish and Derrick Rose, who will both be free agents after the season.

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